Monday, April 2, 2018

It's Pop-o-matic Trouble!

Sunday - Day 2 - continued

I get set up at the ElCo slot club and instead of drawing an envelope from the big drum, I am told to use the kiosk. I swipe my card, punch in my PIN, and run the pick a card game.

Carefully, I pick the $1000 free play card, except the instant you pick a card, they move the $5 freeplay card underneath it and shuffle the good ones away.

How do I know this?

Because there are only five cards to choose from, and every fifth person would be walking away with $1000 free play if it were random. That's some savvy analysis skills there.
elvis tyler james fremont street
Elvis is in the house! Err, outside of the house.

I manage to play Buffalo (BEEEFFFAAALOOOOOO) for about 15 minutes and then lose. I go where losers go - to the basement of the El Cortez, which is down four steps. The ElCo is already so low that the basement is only four steps lower.

The lower area has been rearranged but I find one of my beloved Deuces machines, and its available. I play $20 on the Deuces, cherishing the moment, drinking in the old school action of the game. I love it. I think back to all the times I've returned to this machine, to try to get those $500 deuces one more time. I did get them once, years ago, and a royal flush on the other one. But this is the one I have been chasing for the past four years.

Things go okay for a while, and I had a couple of chances, but got nothing. It's okay, I am in careful control of my no roller budget and I know when to walk. I'll be back another time.

I walk straight to the alcove, and stupidly play dollar bonus.


$20 worth. I am already shaking my head - I am supposed to be playing nickels. I don't have the budget for this. I punch Deal and the first hand is nothing. The second hand nothing. The third hand I hit a pair. I lazarus twice, hitting three of a kind, and ratchet it up to $45, nice little profit if I cash out. I play on, head back to $30, and then get a beautiful full house. I hit $75 and I think if I could just hit something maybe I could make a run at a dollar royal. But when I hit $60, I drop my date off home, just at midnight, and cash out those coins. When you have no budget, betting over your head is exciting. I know that it will spell trouble.

I leave the El Cortez satisfied that I've made $20, and head for the D. I notice another bit of Vegas history, Trader Bill's old neon sign, has been steamed over by White Castle.

I go into Walgreen's for savvy budget gambler supplies for room camping, and find some coffee makers to compare to the one I plan to order.

They have one for $17, which is really getting down in price. I could make five cups at a time in this baby. But I'd have a glass carafe to tote around or jettison. And it's a fairly big unit.

Below it is a $24 model, which is nice enough, still fairly inexpensive, but comes with a big sippy travel cup I'll never use. Overall, it's too heavy, too pricy, and too big. I mentally congratulate myself on the machine I plan to order from Amazon.


Boxes and Boxes of FU Golden Nugget $3.75 ripoff K-Cup k-cups. So many ways to deprive the Nugget of their ridiculous prices for a measly cup of vital life-saving coffee.
My purchases at Walgreen's include a little thing of milk, almonds (unsalted), shaving cream (Aveeno unscented), and a diet Dr. pepper.

And a pound of oats.

Actually, that is not true. The container of oats that I purchase contains well over a pound. And it's only $3. If I eat oats for breakfast five or six times this trip, it’s worth it, in one sense. We’ll see, won’t we.

Fruit is stupid expensive. Three quarters of a cup of melon, $2.50. A cup and a quarter, $5. Apples are a buck. Farmers (or somebody) must be rich.

I walk through the D and hit the slot club, picking up two $5 match play chips and one $25 one. The free play goes nowhere and for a minute I think back to all the good times we had playing slant tops in the lobby to try to win a free $8 steak coupon for getting four of a kind. I've been coming to Vegas long enough to have a good dose of melancholy sometimes. Better than the other kind of dose.

I'm just not feeling it at the D for playing blackjack. I haven't played any cards yet and I feel rusty and unlucky, so I walk, thinking about how to deal with $25 match plays, which is more than I usually play. The last thing I want to do is walk up to a cold table, plunk down $25 cash and the match play, play one hand, lose, and slink away. There's no chance to get the feel of the table.

I figure out a scheme, and I think it's pretty good. For a $25 match play, I'll buy in for $40 and play $5 a hand. The goal will be to win $25 profit, and I'll use that for the match play bet. If I get down to $25, I'll use that and go for it. I like this plan a lot, and I skip down Fremont street with my oats and a happy song in my heart, back to the Nugget.

The casino has not got much to offer me right now - but my suite does. Particularly a half hour shower, and bed. I nap like a son of a bitch, power nap, just fly down into unconsciousness and wring every ounce of rest I can muster. I sleep so fucking hard that I sweat.

The reality of doing live updates on this blog I have rears up and reminds me - people are waiting. I get the laptop out and file an update or two, and then fuck around on the internet. I marvel at how quickly I have mastered the Falcon Heavy k-cup rocket machine, and drink not one, but two cups of joe. With the fresh milk, they are acceptable.

There must be some machine, some forgotten machine somewhere in the Nugget that has a decent gamble on it. One mistake, somewhere. I keep telling myself this, but I have yet to find one.

Horrible 6/5 Bonus earns me a beer. Two different machines eat my money. Nickle Ultimate X goes alright for a while, and it's fun, and I'm in a loud smoky casino in Las Vegas, and I'm happy. I look around at people a lot, try to memorize it in, but I never can.

Before I know it I've ploughed down $80 and then I spy a triple play game with 9/5 Jacks, in quarters. 98.54% return. This must be equivalent to the best play in the whole Golden Nugget, even in dollars, and definitely in quarters. You heard it here first.

Surely a single $20 won't hurt. And a second. In about three minutes or less. Because I don't hit anything and I'm way, way under-bankrolled for this game. It needs to have a hundred stuck into it.

Sooner or later I will get around to playing bubble craps, and there it is right there. So I sit down. The screen is slightly less complex than the k-cup machine upstairs. They have made a mistake in including every bet possible on a craps table, which is considerable. They should have a rookie mode that strips it down to pass line with odds, field, place numbers, and hardways.


I lose three hands in a row and I'm felted, going all in on the pass line. It's my turn to be the button pusher shooter and I roll a point of ten. Two rolls later I hit it, and I'm still in business.


Bubble craps, I reflect, is nothing more than giant sized pop-o-matic trouble. That’s all it is. And I start to try to remember the rap:

Have you got trouble? Wait don’t run.
This kind of trouble is lots of fun.
Pop-o-matic pops the dice. Pop a six and you move twice.
Race your men around the track and try to send the others back.
That’s pop-o-matic trouble!
Popping the dice in the plastic bubble,
Pops you in and out of trouble.
Here comes sister, look out, Jack.
You've got trouble - you go back.
The game is fun for dad and mother
And sis can trouble her mean old brother

Trouble trouble, that’s pop-o-matic trouble.

Things go well, and I make three points, including another ten and a four. I work up to $70 and cash at $60, salvaging some bankroll. Another beer would be good, so I sit down at a nice little Buffalo machine. I order a beer and play, getting two coins about 25 fucking times. Three coins triggers the bonus and on the last spin I've got, I get three. Whew! My bonus runs through and I win $2.40.

I'm done, and I sit waiting for my fucking beer. My profits are gone, and my bankroll for the day is gone. I have snatched pop-o-matic trouble from the jaws of victory.

It's so sad, sitting at a machine with no money because you are waiting for a drink that you ordered to enjoy consuming while playing said machine. Eventually, I get my beer, snarl at the CW, and then head to the Bone Jumper for dinner.


It's probably for the best, as it is about 9:00pm my time. Dinner is their Big-Ass BBQ Chicken Salad, with Prizes. It's pretty tasty, and my $15 food credit a day covers it. (Or does it?...)

The Plaza seems like a worthy destination, so I go there head out on Fremont, which is rockin' with Elvis on the stage, and get my freeplay and redeem for the $25 match play coupon. I play the freeplay and a bit of this and that - I don't really stay that long, just long enough to admire the new carpet, lose a few bucks, and head out.

Thank goodness they got rid of that gaudy, garish carpet and replaced it with some new gaudy, garish carpet! (Which actually, is pretty nice. It's perfect for the Plaza.)
At the end of Day 2 I'm down $160. It's not much, I tell myself, but here's the thing.

I only brought $640 with me. At least I have nice new Plaza carpeting to enjoy if things go badly.

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